Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Preview: Kansas at Texas A&M

There’s no one on the Texas A&M roster that looks likely to pose a matchup problem similar to that of Thomas Gardner or even the perceived one that never materialized with Wes Wilkinson last Saturday. Acie Law and Joseph Jones are easily the best players on the Aggie team and Kansas has multiple players capable of guarding both reasonably well.

Law has been an incredible offensive force in Big 12 play, playing 95% of his team’s minutes, shooting 59.4 eFG% and 71.4% from the free throw line while taking 30.8% of his team’s field goal attempts and free throw attempts. Despite Law’s heroics, the Aggies are 2-3 in conference largely because Joseph Jones has struggled (at times) with foul trouble and received little help from fellow big men Marlon Pompey and Antanas Kavaliauskas (who had an atypically productive 15 point, 4 rebound, and 3 assist performance in the overtime win in Ames on Saturday). Chris Walker has stepped up his offensive production in conference play but Dominique Kirk has fallen apart on the offensive end over the same time period and freshman Josh Carter has found Big 12 play more difficult than the non-conference portion of the schedule.

Here’s Texas A&M’s season stats:
(Note: FTRate equals free throws made per 100 field goal attempts. FTRate for opponents equals free throw attempts per 100 field goal attempts.)


Here are their stats against quality competition (all conference games, at Pacific, home against Penn State and Auburn):


Here are their stats in Big 12 play:


Texas A&M’s lack of depth becomes a bigger factor the better opponent they play. Good teams are more likely to have big men who can attempt to matchup with Joseph Jones and Texas A&M plays at much slower pace, forces fewer turnovers, and fewer easy offensive chances.

For comparison’s sake, Kansas versus quality opponents (all conference games, vs. Arizona, Arkansas, St. Joseph’s, and California, home against Nevada and Kentucky):


Kansas in Big 12 play:


Kansas has exceeded their season scoring rate in Big 12 play and maintained most of their defensive efficiency (only Missouri exceeded 0.90 points per possession) while increasing the pace of games. For whatever reason, the Jayhawks have rebounded extremely well in their two conference road games while struggling on the boards in the two games at Allen Fieldhouse. Whether or not they take advantage of Texas A&M’s sub-par defensive rebounding will go a long way toward determining the winner tonight.

The key factor, though, will be the pace at which the game is played. In a 60 possession game, especially one where Texas A&M makes the Jayhawks attempt two free throws for every 4 or 5 field goal attempts, will not allow Kansas to make full use of their superior raw talent and depth. Neither Billy Gillispe nor Bill Self is dumb and both know what the other prefers his team to do. It will be up to the players on both sides to determine whether the winning team will score in the low 60s or the low 70s. I’m hedging my bets with regard to pace and picking the slightly better team to win.

Prediction: Kansas 65 Texas A&M 62

1 comment:

Webprince said...

Bret, I like your analysis. One thing you did a particularly nice job of is breaking out how each team plays against tougher competition ... cherry picking important games in the case of TAM.

As for your comment on my blog regarding TO's, you're right that the pace of the game may dictate my projected # to be lower or higher. I just decided to use a number because when people watch games, they don't have a good sense of %TO's per possession.

Great job as always!